2019 Annual financial report

Chapter 1. Presentation of the group

During 2013, Publicis Groupe actively pursued acquisitions, particularly in the digital sphere and across the globe, in order to achieve critical mass in the various businesses, especially digital, and in the countries in which it already had a footprint, thereby leveraging scale. The market changes seen over the past number of years with a genuine explosion in the Internet and the increasingly marked slowdown in the analog business reaffirmed the Group’s strategic decisions and have spurred on the rapid development of digital operations. Having acquired LBi, the largest European independent marketing and technology agency, combining strategic, creative, media and technical expertise, the Group proceeded to combine it with the Digitas integrated global network, creating DigitasLBi, the world’s most complete digital network. It capitalizes on the seamless geographical integration of both entities: Digitas’ sound position in the United States (the largest digital network), LBi’s strong presence in Europe and the strong position of both entities in the Asia-Pacific region. 

On July 27, 2013, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group Inc. signed an agreement for a merger of equals. In May 2014, Publicis Groupe chose not to pursue the merger with Omnicom Group. With its unique position in the digital business, which offers growth prospects in a communications landscape upset by the rapid emergence of new technologies, the Group accelerated its development in innovative disciplines via the acquisition of several digital agencies and strategic partnerships.

In September, Publicis Groupe and Adobe formed a strategic partnership to offer the PublicisGroupe Always-On PlaftormTM, the Group’s first comprehensive marketing management platform, which automates and centralizes all components of client marketing. This unique platform, anchored within VivaKi, available to all Publicis Groupe’s agencies and networks and standardized on Adobe Marketing Cloud, will enable, for the first time, all Publicis Groupe’s agencies to create attractive content, analyze their marketing, identify and create audience segments, deploy campaigns, as well as monitor and measure marketing performance using a common technology and data structure.

Virtually all of the acquisitions involved digital businesses: agencies specializing in social media, online content, realtime data analysis, e-commerce, digital solutions applied to marketing or multi-channel programs

The most notable transaction of 2014 was the acquisition of Sapient, announced on November 3, 2014. In an increasingly converged world, clients need a partner offering digital solutions to help them keep up with a connected, empowered consumer whose behavior has completely changed. The contribution of Sapient combined with Publicis Groupe’s know-how in the digital area, creativity, media and brand communication creates unparalleled expertise in marketing and sales across all distribution channels and consulting services based on outstanding technological prowess. The latent needs of advertisers as they address the many developments in the economy, consumers and technology, require an overhaul of marketing and communication models, and sometimes of the companies themselves. Thanks to Sapient, Publicis is in a position to meet all the transformation needs of its clients.

2015 was particularly active on the operational side. The start of the year saw the completion of the Sapient acquisition and the launch of the Publicis Sapientplatform. This platform offers clients all of the functionality of the digital communications value chain, from consulting to sales, via creation, data and platforms. It is backed up by a team of over 8,000 people based in India.

Publicis Sapientis part of the new organization announced at the end of the year, aimed at structuring the Group in such a way that its clients are at the very heart of its organization. In the Group’s top 20 markets, major clients will each be assigned a Global Client Leader or a Country Client Leader, depending on the geographical scope of the support they require. In this way, the Group can offer the entire array of solutions to its clients: creative solutions through “Publicis Communications”, media solutions through “Publicis Media”, digital solutions through “Publicis Sapient”, and healthcare solutions provided by “Publicis Health”. For all other countries, a single structure called “Publicis One” combines all these solutions (creative, media, digital, healthcare) in each country.

Publicis Groupe is thus implementing the most integrated organization in the sector, for the benefit of its clients and employees alike. This structure should foster growth for the Group by harnessing the opportunities offered by the integration and the new possibilities in consulting and technology as well as enhance the operating margin rate by simplifying the organization. The new structure was rolled out over the first few months of 2016.

A very large number of media accounts were up for tender. According to RECMA, there have been tenders for over USD 20 billion worth of billings this year. Publicis Groupe was one of the most exposed of the major communication groups. However, the Group consolidated its position with its clients (Coty, Citi) and made prestigious budget gains such as Taco Bell, VF, Visa and Etihad. There were some losses, including the “US Media” budgets for Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola.

Publicis Groupe continued its tactical acquisitions strategy, with a view to completing its operational networks, both in expertise (content, commerce, behavioral analysis) and geographical scope (South Africa, Israel).